U.S. President Donald Trump (R) embraces Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after his remarks at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem May 23, 2017.
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
When it comes to their view of US President Donald Trump and the US in the age of Trump, Israel is exceptional.
Whereas most of the countries polled in a 25-nation Pew Research Center survey take a dim view of the president and the role of the US under his helm, Israelis are pleased – very pleased.
The poll, released as the second anniversary of Trump’s victory in 2016 approaches, found that “Trump’s international image remains poor, while ratings for the United States are much lower than during Barack Obama’s presidency.”
The exception is in Israel, where the president’s positive rating jumped from 56% in 2017 to 69% in 2018. In 2003, some 78% of Israelis said they had a favorable opinion of then-president George Bush. In 2014, 71% had a favorable opinion of Barack Obama, but that number slid the following year to 49% in light of the fight over the Iran deal
U.S., Iran exchange insults and warnings on world stage, September 26, 2018 (Reuters)
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According to the Pew poll conducted from May through August, Israel was tied with the Philippines for having the highest favorability rating of the US under Trump, with 83% saying they have a favorable view of the US now, compared to 81% at the end of the Obama presidency in 2016. The median rating was 43% unfavorable under Trump, and 50% favorable.
Of Israelis, 94% of Israeli Jews have a favorable view of the US, as opposed to only 43% of Israeli Arabs.
While there is a 37 percentage-point gap between those on the Right (94%) of the Israeli political spectrum expressing favorable feelings to the US under Trump and those on the Left (57%), even among leftists, of nine countries that the survey zoomed in on, only leftists in South Korea (75%) registered more favorable feelings toward the US now than those in Israel. The leftists of Sweden (28%), France (26%) and the Netherlands lagged far behind in favorable feelings.
Israelis also stood out from the pack regarding whether there has been an erosion of American personal liberties.
When asked “Do you think the government of the United States respects the personal freedoms of its people?” 81% of Israelis said “Yes,” a whopping 30% more than the median answer in other countries.
Israelis were also more inclined than residents of any other country to think that the US – compared to years past – was doing more to help address major global issues, with 52% saying it was doing more, compared to the median answer of only 14% in the other 24 countries surveyed saying this was the case.
Israelis also said they believe, more than respondents from any of the other countries surveyed, that the US takes Israeli interests into account when making international policy decisions. Eighty-six percent said they believed this was the case, and only 12% said it was not.
The next highest country on the list was the Philippines, with 74% of respondents saying they believe Washington is taking into account its interests, as opposed to Germany, where 80% of respondents said they do not believe Trump factors Berlin’s interest into his decision-making.
Israelis also have great confidence (70%) that Trump “will do the right thing regarding world affairs,” with only Filipinos having more confidence.
The poll found that Israel is also at the top of the list of countries that said they believe Russia plays a more important role in world affairs today than it did 10 years ago. Sixty-five percent of Israelis believe this is true, trailing only 72% of Russians, and tied with Greece.
On the other side of the spectrum, Israel also led the countries surveyed that said they believe both Germany and France have less important roles in the world than a decade ago, with 39% of Israelis saying Germany now plays a less important role than in the past, and 45% saying the same thing about France.
And just as Israelis have a favorable view of the US, they also have a more favorable view of China than those in other countries, with 55% saying they view China favorably – 10% more than the 25-country median – as opposed to 42% of Israelis who view the country unfavorably.
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